Where Do Confederate Statues Go When They're Taken Down? They Don't Disappear

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There's no denying that the speed with which Confederate symbols are removed from public places across the country has picked up in the wake of last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. From Durham, North Carolina, to Los Angeles, California, Confederate statues have come down by the handful in the last week. Still, the Confederate statues that have been removed will live to see another day, as they're moved to new homes in historical exhibits and other metaphorical burial grounds across the country.

On Saturday, Duke University removed a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from its campus. A Confederate monument was removed from a Hollywood cemetery on Tuesday. Four monuments were taken down in Baltimore on Wednesday, and two plaques honoring Lee in Brooklyn were also removed that same day.

These are just a few of the Confederate symbols that have been cast out of public places since protests over a statue in Charlottesville turned deadly on Aug. 12. After the violence, city and state leaders, as well as groups of citizens, have moved quickly to take a stand.

However, just because a statue has been removed, doesn't mean that Americans have seen the last of it. In fact, many of the statues removed last week will continue to stand tall, but they'll find new homes on private property or in historical museums. Duke University, for example, will reportedly preserve its statue for future studies.

In Gainesville, Florida, a monument was moved to a private cemetery, while the University of Texas moved a statue of Jefferson Davis to a history center on campus. As Atlas Obscura points out, the removal of these Confederate statues — and the others that seem likely to come down in a matter of days or weeks — reflects a universal trend: When history becomes shameful, the symbols of that shame go to congregate in awkward burial grounds. There's Fallen Monument Park in Moscow, Russia, which features statues of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, and there's the Garden of the Generalissimos, which brings together discarded Chinese statues on the island of Taiwan.

When such statues find new homes, they're able to be understood as relics of a dark past. They may continue to draw tourists, an idea that cities and local governments will now have to consider, but they'll appear in the context of history, rather than in the context of modern-day downtown recreation.